Monday, Mar 30th

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Maori Art, Culture and Language

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Koru
This is called the Koru. It is a Maori name given to their unfurling fern which symbolizes new life, new beginning in harmony with nature. It is an integral symbol in Maori carving and tattoos. It is New Zealand's symbol and native plant. It is also the logo for Air New Zealand.
I bought a carved Koru necklace to always remind my wonderful experience in New Zealand.

Other carvings I purchased includes Eternity, Double Eternity and Hei Matau (the fish hook). They say travellers should wear the fish-hook whenever flying overseas. It is said to provide goodluck and safety over water elements. It represents a great respect for the sea. I know I will be wearing my fishhook flying back to the States!
Here's a link to Maori Carvings and their meaning.


Hobbiton

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Hobbiton
On our drive back to Auckland from Rotorua - we stopped into a small town called Matamata, NZ. This little town has renamed themselves as Hobbiton . This was the town where they filmed the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. I was told that most of the movie was filmed in the South Island, but it was in Matamata where they filmed the home of Frodo and Sam.


Rotorua - Journey through Hell's Gate

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I can now say - I've been to Hell and back! We spent a full day at Rotorua, NZ . This town is listed as one of the "1000 Places to See Before You Die ". Rotorua is famous for its active geothermal reserves (greater than Yellowstone National Park). The scent of sulfur in the air is quite evident - giving Rotorua's nickname Sulphur City. It is a 3-hour drive south from Auckland. The population is only 65,000 but they say this town is the tourist capital of the North Island.


Takapu Reserve

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About a 1 hour drive northwest of Auckland, we came to see Muriwai Beach by the Tasman Sea. Here, we see a massive nesting colony of Takapu (or Gannets). A solitude rock formation on the water is their home. These birds endure strong winds and rough waves - but fish is plentiful.

Muriwai.com


The City of Sails

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Auckland, NZ - the country's biggest city. Auckland claims to have more boats per capita than any other city in the world. We are staying at a apartment/hotel very close to the Sky Tower. The downtown district is truly a walkable town. The city's location by the sea (Waitemata Harbour) allows for travel to nearby islands. We took a boat and spent a full day hiking around Waikeke Island (aka. Cascading Waters). On another day, we took another boat to visit the town of Devonport - a picturesque town with fabulous real estate that reminded me of Nantucket. Even the downtown district of Davenport shouts vacation homes for the high society rich and famous. We could live here!

Swirling in New Zealand

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Kia Ora! The Swirl is spending 1.5 weeks in the City of Sails - Auckland, NZ. New Zealand has a population of only 4 million - making it one of the world's least crowded countries. Why did we chose to tour NZ? Well - the dollar is not as weak as in Europe, there is no political upheaval and right now, we just didn't want to work too hard trying to acclimate to a new language.
The people of NZ are warm and friendly. They can be referred to as the Kiwis (not the fruit, but a flightless bird with a long beak which is a size of a domestic hen).

Gay Pride Parade in Amsterdam

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Thousands and thousands turn out for gay floating parade along the canals of Amsterdam. Amsterdam is well reknowned for it's sexual appetite and hashish so a big, flashy parade is no surprise. This year it was just over the top much to the joy of local inhabitants and restaurant owners.

big gay parade

Fitness in a Pill?

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Scientists claim they found a drug that would make people fit and trim without as much diet and exercise.

New Gadget May Offer Paralysis Victims the Ability to Walk

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This medical gadget promised to offer those who are currently wheelchair bound the ability to walk again .

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